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File Handling in C

CSCI N305: C Programming

Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Goals
By the end of this unit you should understand how to open a file to write to it. how to open a file to read from it. how to open a file to append data to it. how to read strings from a file. how to write strings to a file.
N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

What is a File?
A file is a collection of related data that a computers treats as a single unit. Computers store files to secondary storage so that the contents of files remain intact when a computer shuts down. When a computer reads a file, it copies the file from the storage device to memory; when it writes to a file, it transfers data from memory to the storage device.
N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Buffers
A buffer is a special work area that holds data as the computer transfers them to/from memory. Buffers help to synchronize data the physical devices with the program. The physical requirements of the devices can deliver more data for input than a program can use at any one time. The buffer handles the overflow data until a program can use it. Moreover, the buffer also holds data until it is efficient to write that data to the storage device for output.
N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

File Information Table


A program requires several pieces of information about a file, including the name the OS uses for it, the position of the current character, etc. C uses a structure called FILE (defined in stdio.h) to store the attributes of a file.
N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Streams
In C, we input/output data using streams. We can associate a stream with a device (i.e. the terminal) or with a file. C supports two types of files
Text Stream Files Binary Stream Files

from Figure 7-1 in Forouzan & Gilberg, p. 395 N305: C Programming


Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Text Streams & Binary Streams


Text streams consist of sequential characters divided into lines. Each line terminates with the newline character (\n). Binary streams consist of data values such as integers, floats or complex data types, using their memory representation. Today, well concentrate solely on text streams
N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Files & Streams


A file is an independent entity with a name recorded by the operating system. A stream is created by a program. To work with a file, we must associate our stream name with the file name recorded by the OS.
N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Steps in Processing a File


1. Create the stream via a pointer variable using the FILE structure: FILE* spData; 2. Open the file, associating the stream name with the file name. 3. Read or write the data. 4. Close the file.
N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

System-Created Streams
C automatically creates three streams that it opens and closes automatically for us in order to communicate with the terminal:
stdin stdout stderr

We cannot re-declare these streams in our programs.


N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Standard I/O Functions in C

from Figure 7-2 in Forouzan & Gilberg, p. 398 N305: C Programming


Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

File Open
The file open function (fopen) serves two purposes:
It makes the connection between the physical file and the stream. It creates a program file structure to store the information C needs to process the file.

Syntax: fopen(filename, mode);


N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

More On fopen
The file mode tells C how the program will use the file. The filename indicates the system name and location for the file. We assign the return value of fopen to our pointer variable:
spData = fopen(MYFILE.DAT, w); spData = fopen(A:\\MYFILE.DAT, w);
N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

More On fopen

from Figure 7-3 in Forouzan & Gilberg, p. 399 N305: C Programming


Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

File Open Modes

from Table 7-1 in Forouzan & Gilberg, p. 400 N305: C Programming


Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

More on File Open Modes

from Figure 7-4 in Forouzan & Gilberg, p. 401 N305: C Programming


Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Closing a File
When we finish with a mode, we need to close the file before ending the program or beginning another mode with that same file. To close a file, we use fclose and the pointer variable: fclose(spData);
N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Code Example of fopen/fclose


Example:

n305UsingFopenFclose.c

N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Additional I/O Functions

from Table 7-2 in Forouzan & Gilberg, p. 403

N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Whitespace in Format Control Strings


For input, one or more whitespace characters in a format control string cause C to discard leading whitespace characters. For output, C copies whitespace characters in a format control string to the output stream.
N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Text in Format Control Strings


For input, text must match exactly in the format control string to that of the input stream. For output, C copies text in the format control string to the output stream.

N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Conversion Specifications

from Figure 7-5 in Forouzan & Gilberg, p. 406 N305: C Programming


Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Conversion Specifications
The number, order, and type of the conversion specifications must match the number, order, and type of the parameters in the list. Otherwise, the result will be unpredictable and may terminate the input/output function.
N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Input Data Formatting


fscanf/scanf will process input characters until one of the following happens:
The function reaches the EOF indicator. The function encounters an inappropriate character. The function reads in a number of characters explicitly programmed as a maximum width field.

N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

fscanf/scanf Flag & Width


We use only one flag with fscanf/scanf the supression flag (*), which tells the function to read input and then discard it: scanf(%d %*c %f, &x, &y); The width is an optional modifier that with specify the maximum width for input (in characters): scanf(%3d%2d%4d, &ssn1, &ssn2, &ssn3);

N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Size & Conversion Codes

from Table 7-3 in Forouzan & Gilberg, p. 407 N305: C Programming


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Size & Conversion Codes

from Table 7-3 in Forouzan & Gilberg, p. 408 N305: C Programming


Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Side Effect & Value of fscanf/scanf

from Figure 7-6 in Forouzan & Gilberg, p. 410 N305: C Programming


Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Input Stream Issues


1. 2. 3. There is always a return character at the end of an input stream due to the fact that C buffers the stream. fscanf/scanf functions leave the return character in the buffer. To force a discard of the character, begin your format control string with a space character. fscanf/scanf terminate when all specified operations in the control string complete; if the control string ends with a whitespace character, fscanf/scanf continue (they terminate only with a non-whitespace control string).

N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

fprintf/printf Flags, Sizes & Conversion Codes

from Table 7-4 in Forouzan & Gilberg, p. 419 N305: C Programming


Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

fprintf/printf Flags, Sizes & Conversion Codes

from Table 7-4 in Forouzan & Gilberg, p. 419 N305: C Programming


Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

fprintf/printf Output Flags

from Table 7-5 in Forouzan & Gilberg, p. 419-420 N305: C Programming


Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Width & Precision in Output


Width for output specifies a minimum width. If data are wider, C will print all the data. We specify precision with a period followed by an integer:
For integers, precision specifies the minimum number of digits to print (incl. leading zeroes). For floating-point numbers, precision specifies the number of digits to print to the right of the floating point. For scientific numbers (g and G), precision specifies how many significant digits to print.

N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Output Side Effect & Value

from Figure 7-11 in Forouzan & Gilberg, p. 423 N305: C Programming


Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Code Example of fscanf


Example:

n305UsingFscanf.c

N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Code Example of fprintf


Example:

n305UsingFprintf.c

N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Code Example of Append Mode


Example:

n305AppendMode.c

N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Code Example of File Handling


Example:

n305StudentGrades.c

N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Code Example of String Input


Example:

n305StringInput.c

N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Code Example of String Output


Example:

n305StringOutput.c

N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Questions?

N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science

Resources
Forouzan, Behrouz & Richard Gilberg, Computer Science: A Structured Programming Approach Using C. Thomson Course Technology: 2007.

N305: C Programming
Copyright 2006 Department of Computer & Information Science